Monday, October 4, 2010

ALL TIME WORLD XI - THE MIDDLE ORDER

Oh well, this is one difficult task. Selecting the middle order of the World's All-Time Test XI. Before I start this exercise, I'll mention the team that I have already picked thus far in one previous blog.

Openers: Sir Jack Hobbs, Virender Sehwag.
Wicketkeeper: Adam Gilchrist.

Now, the middle order... there's the question of whether it should be a 3-man or a 4-man middle order... and there are some BIG names eligible. Here's a look at the Test numbers of the men selected by Cricinfo as eligible for selection into the World XI:



Seriously big names and seriously difficult decision. My first task was shortlisting some names who are good enough to make the cut for the All-Time World XI team in my opinion. Those names are highlighted yellow.

As great the others above are, I do not think that they are ones to make the cut for the All-Time World XI. It was a particularly difficult decision to leave out Greg Chappell and Rahul Dravid, but I had no choice. This decision was based on the numbers listed above, their profile descriptions on Cricinfo and whatever other knowledge I possessed of their cricket.

Now, Kallis was causing a bit of a problem. He is too good a bowler to be considered as a specialist middle-order batsman. So, I have cut him out of this analysis and decided to include him in my All Rounders analysis. This then made the task slightly easier for me as I was able to decide upon the formation of my team, which will be: 2 Openers, 3 Middle Order Batsmen, 2 All Rounders, 1 Wicketkeeper and 3 Bowlers.

What remains in front of me is a list of 10 batsmen... the best you can find anywhere! And I have to select just 3 of them... a pity!

The easiest selection was the No. 3 spot... no one can hold that other than Sir Donald Bradman. I don't even have to discuss his case further. The numbers, the stories, the quotes... there's everything available to back this decision.

And for the 2 remaining spots, I choose Ken Barrington and Sachin Tendulkar. Again, it was very difficult to leave out Brian Lara, George Headley, Sir Viv Richards and Wally Hammond. But after frying my brains over it, I settled on the former two.

Sir Viv Richards lost a place in my team because for all his intimidating persona, his Test records fall short of the other mighty men included above. And to inspire fear in the bowlers, I have Sehwag opening the batting for this team. That ensured that Viv missed out.

Omitting George "The Black Bradman" Headley was even more difficult. In fact, I penned him in my team initially before scratching his name out. What counted against him was that all his runs have come against the English and Australian attacks in those two countries and his home archipelago of West Indies. He just played 1 Test at a different place - against Indian at Delhi where he made 2. So he was never really tested on slower pitches against good spin bowling. He did not even play South Africa ever. That led to his omission. Not his fault, but I really can't help it much.

Barrington and Tendulkar climbed the ladder above Lara and Hammond because they have played everywhere, scored everywhere and scored BIG everywhere... In Tendulkar, the team has a player who can bat in any gear, can adapt his game for any situation and play any bowler. Barrington got in as he could provide the ideal foil with his resolute style of batting. His natural game, according to his Cricinfo profile, was attacking... but he changed it to be a "stonewaller" and thus, he becomes a part of my team.

I know there will be many objections to this selection... I just hope the Don at least is approved by all. Please do comment about my middle order selection and let me know about your opinions.

2 comments:

elegantstroke said...

No questions on Don and Sachin. The decision to go with Ken Barrington is surprising.

Are you going purely by numbers? Because they don't tell the full story. Barrington's numbers look inflated because he thrashed India, NZ and Pakistan - the teams that were really weak during his career.

Viv's numbers look slightly lesser because - as a captain, he was always looking to win. He never had to score a 200 every time he walked out, because he knew his team had the firepower to take 20 wickets. So he declared when he felt there was enough on board. and your reason for Sehwag alone intimidating batsmen is not very convincing :).

Shridhar Jaju said...

It was not purely by numbers, ES. As I said, I did a bit of reading about these men on Cricinfo pages and even a bit on Wikipedia.

You see, the thing that stuck me about Barrington is the fact that he changed his game in a significant way to suit his team better. He adapted everywhere... scoring in the sub-continent in those days was far more difficult for English batsmen than it is today.

Viv was a temptation. And maybe I would have chosen him in an All-Time ODI team. But my final thought went with Barrington. I know there will be arguments against this selection, but then there will be arguments against all other selections as well...

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